Skip to main content

Random stuff overheard from New York literary agents

Hi Writers,
Sorry for the lame headline. I’m putting the October issue of Writer’s Digest to bed and my clever headline writing capacity is shot.

But I wanted to share some of the notes I kept during my recent trip to New York to accompany our annual competitions winners to meet agents (see posts below).

Many thanks to the agents who guided us including:
• Annelise Robey
• Mollie Glick
• Peter Rubie
• Stephany Evans
• Jennie Dunham
• Michelle Brower
• Donald Maass

So here, in no particular order of importance is random stuff overheard from New York agents:

• The term “book club novel” is hot; consider using in lieu of “literary” fiction; “crossover appeal” is another good catchphrase.

• Make sure your synopsis is concise; stick to the main plotline and characters.

• Know what the core conflict/ turning point of your story is.

• Practice your “elevator pitch.” Be able to verbally sum up your novel in less than two minutes.

• It takes a long time and a lot of effort to find the right agent because you want to find an agent who shares your vision for your writing career. This is one of the most important relationships of your life.

• Many newer/ younger agents are coming into the field with strong editing background and expect to do a lot of editing.

• Never mass e-mail agents; take the time to get to know the other authors they represent and if you’re a good fit.

• Get some publishing credits however you can before you pitch a novel, this sends a signal to everyone that you are a publishable writer.

For everything else you always wanted to know about literary agents but were afraid to ask, go seek the keeper of literary agent wisdom Chuck Sambuchino, editor of Guide to Literary Agents.

Keep Writing,

Let me know if you have any questions, comments or clarifications and I will attempt to once again decipher my own handwriting.

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Do I Pitch Different to Agents vs. Editors?

Every so often writers ask if they should pitch different to agents vs. editors. This post answers that question and provides some extra help on how to successfully pitch both.

Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, feature an urban legend in your story.

Grose, 12:6

Jessica Grose: On the Unsustainability of Parenting

Opinion writer and author Jessica Grose discusses the complicated subject of modern motherhood in her new nonfiction book, Screaming on the Inside.

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

Author and athlete Henriette Lazaridis shares six tips and habits that writers can learn from athletes.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use faint vs. feint in your writing with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples. Plus, we answer whether it's "faint of heart" or "feint of heart."

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter | Book Recommendations

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter

Here are 6 book recommendation perfect for winter reading.